from one generation to the next
I have only ever owned a tiny mortar and pestle for grinding small amounts of spices but a few months ago I bought one big enough to make curry pastes and pesto.
In 2007, I journeyed across the south of India in a travelling cooking school. We cooked in hotel kitchens, restaurants and private homes. Every kitchen had an electric food processor and spice grinder, but the tutors unanimously preferred to use spices ground by hand on a stone.
I remembered watching the rapid movement of dark hands, back and forth, sprinkling a little water when needed to loosen the paste and make the job easier.
With little physical effort I pounded my spice mix by hand, it wasn’t arduous in the least. I felt a strange sense of satisfaction seeing whole cloves, cinnamon stick, cumin seed and coriander reduced to powder, root ginger reduced to a pulp and grated coconut and almonds ground to a paste.
The mortar and pestle far exceeded the capability of my spice grinder in pulverising the spices.
Once the paste was finished there was little else to do to make this seriously delicious lamb korma. Never again will I use the electric spice grinder.
This recipe was adapted to comply with the FODMAP diet from a recipe of the same name in the “The Food of India” a Murdoch publication
500g lamb shoulder, in bite sized chunks
500g lamb leg meat, in bite sized chunks
2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt
1 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
5 cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
2cm piece of cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons grated fresh coconut (available from the freezer in Asian markets)
1 teaspoon crushed dried red chilli
5cm piece of root ginger
45g natural almonds
2/3 cup water
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon garlic oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Mix together the meat and yoghurt and return to the fridge while you prepare the curry paste.
Weigh and measure all the paste ingredients.
In a small pan toast the coriander seeds until fragrant and lightly coloured. Set them aside.
Repeat the process with the cumin seed.
Put the cardamom pods into the mortar first. Break each pod, remove the seeds to the mortar and discard the pods.
Add the toasted seeds, cloves and cinnamon. Pound the spices until powder.
Add the almonds and coconut and crush them thoroughly then add the peeled root ginger and pulverise it too.
Add the water as the mixture becomes a paste to make it easier to grind.
Stir in the chilli.
Warm the garlic oil in a large lidded pan.
Add the curry paste and bring it to the boil, then add the lamb coated yoghurt and tomatoes.
Bring the pan to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, then cook until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Sir the meat frequently and add a little extra water as needed.
The sauce will become very thick.
At the end of the cooking time, season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
As with most braised meat, the curry will taste best if refrigerated overnight.